Last January, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' Science and Security Board moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock ahead thirty seconds. This was in anticipation of an unpredictable, erratic president taking control of the nuclear launch process. A little more than 200 days into the Trump era, we can see why.
Now, to be clear, there will probably not be a nuclear war with North Korea. However, due to the dangerous rhetoric and mixed messages coming out of the White House, the chances of stumbling into a nuclear war have risen greatly. Kim Jong-Un does not appear suicidal and, first and foremost, seeks the survival of his regime. North Korea's missile tests are irresponsible and worrisome, but not unexpected.
North Korea first tested a nuclear weapon almost eleven years ago. The Trump administration's response has turned a concerning situation into a legitimately dangerous one. The two leaders are facing off with nuclear weapons and inflammatory language, increasing the risk of nuclear war.
Ploughshares Fund is bringing together grantees that work on North Korea issues to discuss options, strategies and risks, and to push back against the dangerous uncoordinated actions of the White House. Much like we did with the Iran campaign, we are convening the best and the brightest to solve this wicked problem, and to avoid any use of a nuclear weapon or war. Read some of the best analysis by Ploughshares Fund staff and grantees:
- Hope Trump talks less and trusts his generals more: The North Korea showdown could get horrifying in an instant, by Ploughshares Fund's president, Joe Cirincione
- An important story missed by the media, by grantee 38 North
- The North Korean Policy Review: What Happened In 1999, by grantee and former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry
- Pyongyang can miniaturize, so let's move on to what’s important, by grantee David Wright in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Beyond the politics of today, we are also nurturing a grassroots movement for longer-term policy change. For example, there are two simple, common-sense, long-term goals could go a long way towards increasing the security of the United States. We've led petition drives to increase popular awareness and support for each.
President Trump, like US presidents before him, has unilateral authority to start a nuclear war. This could be changed by requiring congressional approval for the first use of nuclear weapons in preemptive strikes or during a war. It would prevent President Trump or any future president from starting a nuclear war without congressional approval.
Secondly, the United States government still reserves the right to use nuclear weapons first in a war. China has a no first-use policy and so should we. If the US were to make such a declaration, it might temper remarks such as the unscripted ones Trump made about North Korea at his golf resort in New Jersey. We advocated such a policy during the Obama administration, and the utility of such a policy has never been clearer.
Making the world safer from the threat of nuclear weapons, now and in the future, has never been more important. Help us tackle problems like the North Korea crisis, by making a donation today.
Our supporters contributed more than $125,000 in new and increased donations, all of which were matched dollar for dollar. These donations are making an out-sized impact on reducing the most pressing nuclear weapons threats of today, no matter where they come from.
Photo: Earth. Flickr / Alex Andropov (public domain) rendered in Blender